Augustus Pablo-East of The River Nile

Augustus Pablo East of The River Nile:

Laid back reggae grooves decorated by Pablo’s incredible Melodica playing. Completely instrumental, this album does not need vocals to have a voice.

Rating: 15/15 toy instruments

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Frank Zappa-Hot Rats

Frank Zappa Hot Rats:

A series of jazz-rock masterpieces and a solid rocker with a guest appearance from Captain Beefheart. Zappa composes pieces that touch on a variety of moods and textures often transitioning between various themes quickly, but never in a way that jars the listener. His and his backing bands playing is jaw-droppingly good. The jazz-rock pieces will truly take you somewhere else. The one off with Captain Beefheart has a couple minutes of the Captains wailing followed by Zappa going on an extended mutant blues solo. Beyond cool.

Rating 15/15 things crawling from the pool

Steve Reich-Daniel Variations

Steve Reich Daniel Variations:

A beautiful piece that transcends the term minimalism. Though the drones and repetition, of minimalism are present Reich toys with them adding subtle changes that eventually evolve into completely different patterns. Reich utilizes a fascinating harmonic language particularly during the first track. He uses dissonant chords to at times create tension, and at others to present beauty. One of Reich’s true strengths is his ability to weave seamless transitions that don’t feel forced or unnatural, and there are plenty of occurrences like that to be found on this album.  I can’t say enough about how rewarding of a listen this album truly is.

Rating: 15/15 tragic events spawning beautiful music

Death-Live in L.A.: Death and Raw

Death Live in L.A.: Death and Raw:

A killer set from the true architects of death metal. Other than the recording quality theres nothing here that isn’t exactly what I want from death metal. Vicious screaming, intricate but catchy riffs, fast solos, a strong multi-faceted rhythm section, and great lyrics. One of the best live metal albums I’ve ever come across.

Rating: 15/15 forgotten classics

Kronos Quartet-Plays Sigur Ros

Kronos Quartet Plays Sigur Ros:

Its amazing how well stripping down these songs to four acoustic string instruments, and removing the vocals actually works. The music swells and retracts then changes course keeping one completely enamored and interested at what will happen next. One of the true highlights of this album comes when one or more instruments play the vocal melody. The phrasing is so beautiful and exact that I may even prefer it to the original vocal track. A great release, with a lot of incredibly emotive playing.

Rating 15/15 unpronounceable song titles

Wayne Kramer-The Hard Stuff+

Wayne Kramer The Hard Stuff+:

A clever mix of fuzzed out punk and soul. The lyrics cover a wide range of topics, from Kramer’s personal life, to a mournful farewell to Charles Bukowski. The music is simple enough to be catchy, but intricate enough to hold your interest. As always Kramer’s guitar soloing is loud and passionate, complimenting his songs wonderfully whenever he decides to let loose. Can’t find a fault in this one.

Rating: 15/15 MC5’s

Frank Zappa-Wazoo!

Frank Zappa Wazoo:

A live disk from Zappa’s 1972 touring band. Twenty members playing everything from marimba to sousaphone do wonderful takes on some Zappa classics. Not until his final tour in 1988 would Zappa have a horn section this powerful again, nor a band so solid. The music is challenging but fun, traversing the gamut of Zappa’s genre bending intellect. It must have been an amazing night.

Rating: 15/15 Peccaries